Lieutenant-General Edward Puttick (1890–1976) pictured near Venafro in Italy, c. May 1944.
At the outbreak of the Second World War Puttick sailed with the 1st Echelon of the 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force. As a brigadier he led 4th (NZ) Brigade in the retreat through Greece and temporarily commanded the 2nd New Zealand Division in Crete (29 April – 27 May 1941) while Major-General Freyberg was in charge of Creforce. Following the withdrawal from Crete, Puttick returned to New Zealand and became chief of general staff in August 1941.
Puttick’s actions on Crete have been the source of some controversy. In the critical loss of Maleme airfield he failed to ensure that Brigadier James Hargest’s 5th (NZ) Brigade counter-attacked to support those defending the airfield’s perimeter. His decision not to launch a counter-attack on German forces in the Prison Valley on 20 May was perhaps his biggest tactical error of the campaign.